Shorten my bike commute
April 25, 2012 8:35 PM Subscribe
When should I expect to see a reduction in the amount of time I spend bike commuting?
posted by crazycanuck to Travel & Transportation (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
After a seven and a half year hiatus, I am back to bike commuting. I start a new job in a few weeks and I intend to bike commute full time (rain or shine, but not snow - so I should miss maybe 10 days a year). Today was day 3 of my test ride and the ride is getting worse, not better.
The route is a little over 6 km long each way. The route starts with a very steep and long downhill grade, some flat riding, a long gradual incline, followed by some flat city biking, then a short steep uphill climb to the office. I reverse this route on the way home. This is a road commute, with 98% of the route on a side street designated as a bike way (so there are signals to help cross major streets). Assume this route is an optimal bike route given the terrain and location of bike ways.
I am overweight (5'11" and 202lb) and out of shape. I am riding a 20 year old hybrid, same bike I commuted on years ago without incident.
I've done this three days in a row now. My ride times are getting worse every day. The ride there was 27 min day 1, 28 min day 2, 31 min day 3. The ride home was 34 min, 34 min, 38 min. Where I could climb maybe 50% of the short steep incline to work and maybe 33% of the long steep incline on the way home from work on day 1, my climbing ability shrank to 0% of the short steep incline on the way to work and maybe 15% of the long steep incline.
I do my training ride all at once, with an additional km tacked on either end that I won't do in a real commute (so 14 km round trip). When I get back from this 14 km ride I am knackered and need to sit down and just rest for a few minutes. My back is sore and one knee is sore (I think poor adjustment on bike), but I don't feel like my muscles are sore.
* Bike commuters - when did you see reductions in your commute times? How long should I expect to wait to see the results of practice?
* Given my current fitness level, do you think I will be knackered when I get to work, or should I be fine (given that the ride to work is a subset of my training ride)?
* What is the best way to prepare for the commute so I am faster on my first day of work. Should I ride the route 5x a week, or should I take rest days?
* It rained on day 3. Is a 3-4 minute increase in ride time just a "rain tax", or is it something else (fatigue from days 1 and 2)?
* I know that my seat is way too low (the quick release is broken so the bike seat is fixed at the lowest position) and the front gear is not working properly, so I can't fully shift into granny gear in the front. The bike shop is full though so they can't fix my bike until Saturday. Can I expect gains once I have the bike repaired?
* Map my ride claims that this ride burns ~600 calories a day. Assume I make a 500 cal reduction in diet (say no wine with dinner on weeknights) to get an even pound-a-week weight loss. How does that change my ride time?
* What is a good target time for the ride to work. Is 20 min a realistic goal?
* How long do you think it will take me to learn to ride 100% up that final hill? Pushing the bike uphill is a bit demoralizing.
* When does it get better? I like the ride but the fatigue/tiredness associated with it is not really the best thing for a brand new job.
* Given my current sweatiness quotient, I am going to bike in workout clothes (not work clothes but not hard core cycle clothes). Is it tacky to show up on the first day slightly sweaty and ask to be shown to the washroom to change?